Optimism on PCB: Paul Casto “The Beach Has Changed A lot”

by March 25, 2010 • 10 comments

Paul Casto - Public Works Director

Paul Casto, Panama City Beach’s Public Works Director, has been the public works director for 27 years and is one of Panama City Beach’s most beloved community leaders. One of Paul’s most rewarding achievements was the push for and development of the Panama City Beach Aquatic Center at Frank Brown Park. He believed children needed a place to learn to swim and a place to swim away from the dangers of the beach. He has been a Panama City Beach resident most of his life and believes Panama City Beach is moving in the right direction.

Paul Casto on Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport:

“I believe it will be a huge economic boost. I see more international travelers coming to our area as well as industrial growth which will mean more better-paying jobs for our residents. The locals obviously will benefit from the cheaper flights. I also believe one of the places that will benefit the most is the convention and sports market. More people will be able to come to Panama City Beach cheaper and safer than ever before.”

Paul Casto on Panama City Beach Development:

“I think by the time the CRA is built out, and we’ve still got 20 years left on it, Panama City Beach will have had a total transformation. The whole cityscape will be different, with more sidewalks, bikepaths, landscaping similar to Richard Jackson Boulevard with all the utilities underground. Traffic will function better too. It’s hard to see it now because anytime you have the type of exponential growth as Panama City Beach has had, where things are booming, the last and most expensive thing to implement is the infrastructure. But there will be more connector roads to get people in and out of busy streets.”

Paul Casto on Panama City Beach Growth:

“I’ve been a resident for a long time and I can tell you the beach has changed a lot. It’s a whole different community from when I was in high school; Thomas Drive wasn’t even developed and there were no high rises. The identity has and is still changing as well. At one time it was all about Spring Break. It sill is in many ways, but I think it is slowly changing into a more family-oriented destination. Already there is more for families to do when they get here. The entertainment and attractions business will continue to grow and that will change the Beach’s identity over time. It won’t be about coming here to lay on the beach and get sunburned; the beach will be known more as a place for families to come have fun because there is so much to do.”

Paul Casto on the future of Panama City Beach:

“I think the biggest thing will be that we won’t be limited by seasons. You know, right now, its Spring, Summer and some of the Fall before business declines. Those shoulder seasons will be filled up with special events, festivals, car shows and things like that. I see the Pier Park Amphitheater developing into a big draw every weekend. In 20 years Panama City Beach will be a different place; bigger, better and more beautiful.”

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1 Lee Howe March 25, 2010 at 2:37 pm

I think the biggest mistake made was Jill’s. Would you invite 100 people to have a party in your kitchen? Probably not big enough, right? That’s what happens to our beach (tax-paying) community when more people are invited than the infrastructure can handle. We’ve been putting up with inconvenience for years, but this last year’s concert and this year’s BET crowds have pushed us over our tolerance limit. If one cannot leave home or return to home, there are too many people on the road (and roadside). When traffic literally cannot move and police have to shut down major thoroughfares, then planners need to get a clue. Consider the infrastucture and your local taxpayers, please!

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2 S hill March 25, 2010 at 3:32 pm

I think he is right that the beach will be definitly different in a ten years. As one of those tax payers that was so concerned about leaving the house, i believe that thier will be growing pains with every growth and no maybe as a tax payer this is not what everyone signed up for but I am not only a tax payer but I am also an employer and people need jobs to feed families and that means we need employment. Now no not every crowd that we get here is the greatest, but at this time it is really hard for business owners to make it with four real good months and 5 o.k. months and 3 that we can shut down and no one will notice. I can proudly say that I have been in business for 9 years now and still employ my employees during the winter. So I understand when a business signs anything up to make money. I understand that the crowd was diffrent but I never heard anyone complain last 20 years. I do agree that the infrastructure has to change and our leaders have to have a plan or clue which ever comes first. and need to take all options into consideration. I also understand that we definitly need a flow of year round family oriented business. None of us need a 3or 4 month break. In ordered to get that we need more attractions then just the beach or pier park. Yes it is a start but when is everyone going to realize that people are going to fly in and go striaght to destin. They do have better infrastructure and shopping. Don’t get me wrong I love pcb, If i didn’t I would not be in business for so long. I hope that i am wrong and i hope you can tell me diffrently. But afters 9 years of business I think I have a little clue of what attracts. You are who you invite so you better be careful who is at your party in the kitchen. If you want to soar with eagles you can not peck with the chickens.

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3 Mike March 25, 2010 at 3:35 pm

Another consideration that I hope our planners considered is our water and sewage infrastructure. That is an area where acting reactively will be too late.
Is our infrastructure capable of handling a near capacity population on the beach? Let’s say the condos were full. Would there be enough water and sewage facilities available to continue to provide the wonderful water pressure we have today and to process all that waste? By the way, where is the beach waste water treated?

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4 Bernard March 25, 2010 at 3:36 pm

I still say, that Panama City Beach is going to have to make a decision, wether it should cater to Spring Breakers or Families and European Travelers. The two will never mix.
If the spring breakers are chasing our snowbirds away and forcing them to leave early, imagine what they would do to a family of foreigners visiting. If not next year, soon, the choice will have to be made. Never the two shall mix…..

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5 Tony Johnson March 25, 2010 at 4:38 pm

My wife & I have now owned & operated Mr. Surf’s going on twelve years. We have been in our new facility now for seven. I (Tony) feel that I have come along way in growing up in business & in the way I look at life, particulary, over the past couple years. I have toned down thanks to the Spiritual relationship I have developed & continue to work on. We (MrSurfs) have many families old & new come into the shop. Unfortunately, this year because of the type & activity of the Springbreak crowd that came into PCB last week a lot of them said they were not coming back, & in fact, they cut there stay short & headed West to Destin & Gulf Shores. I am just relaying what I SEE & HEAR from some of folks coming into our shop over the last week. We are in what my C.O. would call “TRENCHES” because we are on the beach everyday & not in an office & or at a meeting. It’s just how it is with our business. This needs to be known & heard.

A personal note from my experince last week: I am not predjudce. However, I had to go to Walmart on Saturday (the day before BET event) & what I experiencd & saw was scary, I have several other eyewitness to this fact. When I arrived (around mid-day) there were large groups (I would say about 4 to 5 of six/up to twelve persons) of afro-americans hanging out around thier vehicles, blasting rap music, & doing things that Spring breakers normally do. However, this was different. At first I thought it was gangs & they were going to have a fight. Then I saw a couple of the groups on cell phones & a few minutes later other vehicles were pulling in (all dark widows). A few persons from each group would walk up to the these vehicles & it was pretty obvious that drug transactins were going on as money & bags were being exchanged. I sat in my truck for at least 20 minutes & observed several transactions. (KEEP IN MIND THIS IS MID-DAY!) I have a large trailer, so I park at the back of the lot. I had to walk through this crowd. It was a very uncomfortable experince. This did not feel or look like Panama City. That same night there was a shooting at one of the resorts that was apparently “GANG” related -NO KIDDING! I spoke to an official, who I will keep annynomous, and spoke about what I saw & experienced & stated that even if the police would have been there, they most likely could not have dealt with the problem because they would have been outnumbered & HE AGREED. I will say that I know the SAME THINGS go on with caucasian, hispanic or whatever color creed, or nationality we have among us. Last week it just happened to be a certain group of of many. I could relay some other incidents & events that I encountered in the shop & on the beach, but this is enough said.

The POINT: One + One = TWO. If you promote & bring in the types of entertainment to certain types of crowds – THEY WILL COME. Unfortunately, I met & did business with quite a few familes that will not be coming back to Panama City Beach & most likely they will tell others of what they experineced while here also.

I know life is not perfect & most of the time there is much chaos because of the culture we live in. As I understand it, Satan rules this world. However, ultimate power & authority belong to God. We can all surely pray for our city officials & the changes that our community is going through & our future.

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6 leanna April 1, 2010 at 3:14 pm

i find it funny you had to point out they were “afro-americans” and then turned around and pointed out that it happens with all races. so why point that out. why not just say you saw people in the parking lot exchanging drugs in exactly those words?

There were probably lots of different races doing the same thing, they just didn’t stick out like a sore thumb the way black people do or illicit the same fear in you the way black people do. I think the only think that made it “obvious drug transactions were going on” were the fact that they were black and had “dark windows” and ohh my god! “cell phones”

I saw the same groups of kids loitering around in a sam parking lot and I was initially freaked out becuase, well they are black. if it were a bunch of white kids doing the exact same thing I wouldn’t have looked twice probably, I just would have thought… ohh those crazy spring breakers, loitering and causing a rukus and whatnot.

Why don’t you put your praying to good use and pray for us not keep judging people so harshly on skin color.

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7 Anna March 25, 2010 at 4:58 pm

The incidents last weekend on the beach will leave a lasting impression on our potential visitors. AOL has now listed PCB as one of the top ten most dangerous beach for spring break. When are the TDC going to get it? If you invite “gangstas” you will have trouble. Stop the craziness before more innocent people get hurt. If we cannot control what happens during spring break we will eventually loose the rest of our visitor.
Why do the locals travel to Destin for shopping and a nice quiet dinner? I go because I will not have to encounter drunk or drugged out freaks. Wake up before it is too late.

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8 Grandma K. March 25, 2010 at 6:04 pm

HI — Always enjoy hearing about your part of the states. You really do your part.
Very interesting what goes on. We are having our share of the rain but I guess you are
to get some also. Have a good day. grdma e k

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9 judy March 26, 2010 at 8:23 am

Why would you leave Panama City Beach and go to Drstin to avoid traffic? Have you not noticed the bumper to bumper traffic from Sandestin to West Destin all the way to the bridge. Only one way ,no other road. Panama City does have several through streets to Back Beach Road if you want to get off Front Beach Rd.
The new airport will be what this area needs . Some fail to know what growth is and who is behind it. St Joe Company!!!

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10 Jonboy April 9, 2010 at 6:55 pm

Come on!! This has nothing to do with black, white, hispanic or any other race or ethnic group. The simple facts are; spring breakers check their morals and common sense at the state line. One Sunday morning I rode around and observed over a dozen PCB workers picking up trash around the LaVela, Spinnaker and Boardwalk area I was disgusted with the amount of garbage. It honestly looked like someone dumped several garbage trucks and then turned on high speed fans and strewn the trash everywhere. It was disgusting!!! Surely our ELECTED officials can take a hard look and make the difficult decisions to move past this whole spring break quick buck thing. I am sure some heard the reports about the underage drinking that was policed this year. When the sweep across the State, yes, State of Florida involving under age drinking and somewhere in the neighborhood of 850 of the approx. 1100 arrests made happened right here in our beloved town, we have a problem. If Daytona, Fort Lauderdale, etc., can separate them selves from the spring break dollar so can we.

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